$2,500 1977 AMC Pacer Wagon

AMC introduced the Pacer wagon in 1977 to what I was surprised to find was generally good press from automotive magazines. While some “enthusiasts” can’t see the appeal of the wide compact, I admit to being a Pacer fan from day one, and the wagon is just more of a better thing in my opinion. This project example is listed for sale here on craigslist in Montesano, Washington where the asking price is only $2,500.

Although the pictures are typical Craigslist quality (can’t folks just hire Scotty G. to take some great pictures of their cars?) but the expanded greenhouse area of the already glassy Pacer can be easily seen from this angle. I don’t see a lot of rust but the body is characterized by the seller as “fair”. While some of you would probably keep the vintage 5-slot aluminum wheels, I would be hard-pressed not to pick from the selection on this page to replace them.

I can’t tell whether this is rust repair, dent repair or an unrepaired dent behind the wheel well. What do you sharp-eyed Barn Finds readers think? Based on this color chart from the terrific Planet Houston AMX site, I think we are seeing Autumn Red Metallic, but I could easily be wrong.

Unfortunately the striking western-themed interior is beyond repair, although I found some equally striking 1978 Pacer fabric here on eBay if you want to reupholster the seats in something almost correct. Reasonably priced carpet kits can be found here. Despite the billiard-ball shift knob, the 6-cylinder engine is backed by an automatic transmission, which I believe AMC sourced from Chrysler.

This should be a 258 cubic inch version of the AMC six with a two-barrel carburetor, but who knows after either 78,000 or 178,000 miles? We’re told it runs and moves forwards and backwards. The seller was going to pull the engine and install a V8 but plans have now changed. Perhaps they’ve changed to benefit a Barn Finds reader? Thanks to Pat L. for sending us this Pacer find and be sure and let us know if you buy it!

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Comments

  1. Joe

    I had Autumn Red 77 wagon. Mine had 232 and single barrel carb. Could be 258 as I see quite a few upgrades from the one I had. Miss that car. One of the most reliable things I ever had.

    Like 3
  2. Urquiola

    The AMC 6-L engine in Pacer admits many tuning approaches, from an ‘R’ camshaft (RockAuto.com) with larger valve travel, to installing the head, EFI, exhaust from Jeep Cherokee 4.0 HO, actually the last version of AMC 6-L.
    They installed also a Pacer crankshaft in a Jeep 6-L HO engine, this gives 4.7 litres displacement.
    With the Jeep head, intake and exhaust, and Bosch injectors, an improvement of over 45 HP, and 3 litres/ 100 km better fuel economy was reported in a Pacer. Salut +

    Like 7
  3. chrlsful

    I see the AMC Magnums & would also go w/these slots…
    Thanks for write-up, bring to BF, Jamie.
    I am only interested in the wagon, the ‘flat hood’ early
    model, and believe this motor tops. Might swap in the
    Holley/Weber progressive (depending on which side in
    take) or ‘pinto’ carb. Also like the auto as am a city DD.

    Like 2
  4. John Calabro

    It’s too wide!

    Like 1
  5. Rich R

    Always thought these were interesting! I worked at an AMC dealer during the 1980’s and saw a few come in. Many years later I found out these were originally designed for a rotary engine. Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone did that?

    Like 3
    • CCFisher

      The Pacer was originally designed around GM’s Wankel engine. When that program was cancelled, AMC was forced to redesign the Pacer’s firewall so the AMC 6 would fit. It’s probably just as well. The Pacer was heavy for its size, and some criticized its performance and fuel economy as a result. The Wankel would not have been an improvement, with weak low-end torque and generally poor fuel economy (15-16 MPG in a Vega!). The Wankel engine is one of those ideas that’s much better in concept than it is in reality.

      Like 5
      • ccrvtt

        “The Wankel engine is one of those ideas that’s much better in concept than it is in reality.”

        Obviously you’ve never driven an Rx7.

        Like 2
      • CCFisher

        I have, indeed. A little weak off the line, smooth as silk all the way to redline.

        I was looking at it from an engineering perspective. It should be an engineer’s dream: light, compact, and simple, with few moving parts – things engineers are taught to strive for. In reality, the engine presents issues with apex seals, oil consumption, fuel consumption, and emissions performance that are challenging to overcome.

        Like 1
  6. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Clearly, not a ton of general interest for the Pacer. But to me that is its ‘beauty.’ For someone with limited funds (and a thick skin), this would be just fine. After the cheap purchase price, spend another grand on cosmetic or mechanical repairs, and you end up with something unusual and fun to take to the Sonic cruise-in next spring.

    Like 6
  7. chrlsful

    Nother idea if I get the waggy I’ll put in a 130 hp 2rotor mazda 1.3L wankel (pre-Rotary motor) frm a storage bx out back. Wanna figure the correct auto 4 it.

  8. chrlsful

    Rx wuz rotary in later yrs, not wankel, lets get back to the car?

  9. David Ulrey

    I can take or leave a Pacer but this one I actually really like. Why does the cool stuff always come along when you’re not in the market because you’re already working on something else that you really like too?

  10. davew833

    It’s a dent behind the passenger wheelwell. My first car was a Pacer and I had a similar dent. In fact, I had a number of dents up and down the passenger side. When I went to fix them, there was evidence of even more dents under a layer of filler. Why? Because the Pacer is so W-I-D-E it’s easy to find stuff with that right side: mailboxes, lampposts, parking gates, other cars, cattle….

    Like 6
  11. Mitch Ross Member

    Nice car, nice price, easy restoration to driver level.

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